February 4, 2018

Christians Are Engaged in Spiritual Warfare Against Demons

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I watched a bad horror movie last night. I don't even remember the name of it, but that's okay because it was only memorable in the one aspect I'll address here. The plot was cliche to the point I felt like I'd seen the film several times: a young family moves from the city to a rural community with a strange secret, things go wrong in mildly creepy ways, various supernatural entities end up killing a few of them (yawn).

The one noteworthy aspect was that the main human villain was a Christian pastor. I think that was the only reason I managed to make it to the end. I'm rather fond of horror films that let Christians serve as villains. I find that this often tends to be closer to real life.

After it was over, I found myself thinking about how films like this are missing out on some truly interesting and potentially world-changing storytelling by not putting nearly enough emphasis on a fact that should disturb us all:
Some Christians still believe in demons. I realize it is 2018, and science has indeed come a long way since the Dark Ages. And yet, one can be confident that somewhere in the United States some Christians are engaging in "spiritual warfare" against imagined demons at this very moment.
As I found myself wishing that more horror films would make this point, it hit me that I haven't made it nearly often enough here at Atheist Revolution. Some Christians still believe in demons. Demons! And not only that but some fancy themselves as participants in a battle against demons.

It isn't like I haven't written about how much harm is caused by belief in demonic possession. I have used a few opportunities to highlight evidence that some Christians really do seem to believe in demons, and I've marveled at how strange it must be to live in a world where every day is Halloween. What I haven't done, at least not nearly often enough, is to shine a light on spiritual warfare (i.e., a set of Christian beliefs involving demons and various practices aimed at repelling them).

When you or I watch a supernatural horror film depicting demons, we know we are watching a fictional account. We may find it entertaining, but we certainly aren't going to mistake it for reality. For some Christians, I'm not sure that this is the case. Some really seem to believe in demons. Moreover, some appear to be convinced that demons pose a real danger to their "souls" and that they are participants in some sort of supernatural war. It does sound like a bad horror movie, but some Christians think it is real.

In the movie I watched last night, the pastor offered up an unwilling victim to appease the demons. This sort of human sacrifice scenario to appease gods or demons is something we don't expect to see from modern Christians in the West, and that is a good thing. But that doesn't mean that belief in demons is harmless. It continues to result in unnecessary pain and suffering. I would hope that atheists of all persuasions could at least agree that this is something that needs to change.

I'm not sure how best to hasten the demise of Christian belief in demons, but I suspect that calling attention to it may be beneficial. It is easy to forget that many of our Christian friends and neighbors still believe in demons and still imagine themselves to be engaged in spiritual warfare. I'd like to see us reach the point where this was as embarrassing as it should be.